- Full name Iván Manuel Nova
- Born 01/12/1987 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 250 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 05/13/2010
Organization Prospect Rankings
Nova made it to the major leagues in his seventh season as a pro after signing for $80,000 in 2004. In between he slogged his way through the low minors, was lost to the Padres in the 2008 Rule 5 draft, then returned to the Yankees. Since coming back in the spring of 2009, he has taken off and really broke out in 2010, his best minor league season. Nova's fastball once sat at 89-93 mph and now operates at 92-94 mph since he has grown into his body. At times, he reaches 97 mph with his four-seamer, and some club officialis like the idea of putting him in a middle-relief role, where his fastball could sit in the upper 90s more regularly. However, Nova's three-pitch mix gives him a chance to start, and he competed well as New York's fifth starter in August and September. His changeup is his most reliable secondary pitch. His 80 mph curveball still lacks consistency but has upside, as one scout said it can range from a 30 to a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also has messed around with a slider that lacks depth and is closer to a cutter. Nova's long arm action makes it hard for him to repeat his release point, costing him command and pitch efficiency and leading to inconsistency with his curve. MLB has investigated allegations that Nova and Wilkin de la Rosa injected each other with B-12 shots while teammates at Trenton in 2009, but any findings haven't been made public. Nova is a good trade piece or insurance if the Yankees can't add enough starting pitching in the offseason. Otherwise he could get a shot in a long-relief or swingman role.
The Yankees left Nova off the 40-man roster in 2008, and the Padres picked him in the major league Rule 5 draft. He yielded 11 runs in nine innings in big league camp, so San Diego returned him to New York. Nova then put together his most consistent season as a pro, earning a promotion to Triple-A, where he was Scranton's top starter in the playoffs. The Yankees protected him on the 40-man roster this time, and he's now good trade bait or an option if they need a fill-in starter. Nova always had stuff and added consistency in 2009, throwing his 89-93 mph fastball downhill and for strikes more often. His command now grades as fringe-average, and scouts still see room for projection with his loose arm and long frame. Nova is at his best when he throws his curve with power in the upper 70s. His changeup is a fringy pitch but he shows decent feel for it. He still doesn't have a true plus offering that would help him generate more swings and misses. Nova finally started to close the gap between his upside and production last year, and he could be a No. 4 starter in the big leagues if his command and secondary stuff improve.
The Yankees didn't protect Nova on their 40-man roster, but the Padres found him attractive because of his potential and made him their second selection in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. Nova was regarded as a breakout candidate when he moved up to high Class A last season, but instead he continued to struggle to learn pitch sequences and a feel for the strike zone. Nova can throw strikes with his fastball, curveball and changeup, and all three pitches grade out as above-average when they're on. His fastball reaches 94 mph consistently and his curve can be a hammer, though it's inconsistent. His changeup is at least average most of the time and he throws it with good arm speed. Still, Nova has yet to learn how to set up hitters or get them to chase pitches out of the zone when he's ahead in the count. He also doesn't pitch inside aggressively, which he needs to do to keep lefthanders honest. His delivery lacks deception, making his stuff more hittable. Nova has to stick with the Padres, or else be exposed to waivers and offered back to the Yankees for half his $50,000 draft fee. While he's not ready for the majors, opportunities will be plentiful in San Diego.
While Nova is moving more slowly than the Yankees expect their star Latin American players to develop, he has continued to open eyes with his pure stuff and projectable body. He'll show three plus pitches at times but was far too hittable in low Class A. He began 2007 in extended spring training to keep his workload down, went 4-2, 1.75 in his first six starts, then fell into a 2-6, 6.82 tailspin the rest of the way. Nova must get stronger to maintain his stuff, and he also needs to begin showing better aptitude and ability to make in-game adjustments. His pitches don't need much help, as his fastball sits at 90-94 mph and he has a solid-average curveball and changeup as well. But he doesn't trust his secondary stuff and throws a lot of hittable 0-2 pitches, indicating his lack of mound savvy. Now 21, Nova is a prime breakout candidate for 2008, when he'll repeat low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Two years ago, New York left Nova off its 40-man roster and temporarily lost him to San Diego in the Rule 5 draft. But he didn't stick with the Padres, and their loss is the Yankees' gain. He went 10-1, 2.19 after May, prompting an August promotion to the Bronx. "He throws nice and easy, (topping out at) 95-96," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said, "with a power curveball and a nice little slider and even a decent changeup." Even with Nova's fastball velocity increasing to a steady 92-94 mph, his fastball command and secondary pitches aren't consistent enough for him to be a true frontline starter. He can rush his delivery and lose his feel for the strike zone, but he's more hittable when he falls behind in the count.